The Self-Regulating Psychopath: An Excerpt From “I’m Right and You’re an Idiot”
Corporations do an excellent job of churning out masses of marketing materials that suggest they are doing the right things, but when you look at the actual record, they are not being responsible to social interest, nor can they be expected to be. “How can you expect a psychopath to be self-regulating? The concept doesn’t make any sense,” said Bakan, who calls corporate social responsibility an oxymoron.
I found Bakan’s analysis more believable than the evil CEO explanation or any conspiracy theory. The current system makes it incredibly difficult for a corporation to behave any differently. These companies run on shares, return of stock options, and their whole structure demands they do nothing to jeopardize profits. It’s an oversimplification to turn this fact into a good guy, bad guy narrative because corporations are required by law to act this way.
Bakan noted that some of his best friends work in corporations, and many excellent employees are genuinely committed to social values such as the environment. They want to see their companies doing good things in the world, not causing harm. But when they walk into their offices they are “metaphorically and practically” bound by the institutional demands of their corporations, and that means “social responsibility to stakeholders can only be strategic.” Their critical path must be to serve shareholder profits—that’s been the unique nature of the institution and its legal obligations since corporations were first formed.
Read the full excerpt on Alternet: Noam Chomsky and Joel Bakan on the Psychopathic Propaganda Machines We Call Corporations